Brighten dark wood by painting or cleaning Design: For a country-French look, walls could be painted a sunny yellow or apricot, or they could be papered with an appropriate pattern.

March 09, 1997|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,LOS ANGELES TIMES SYNDICATE

Our large, old dining room has a high, wood-beamed ceiling. The doors, window frames and moldings are in a medium-stained oak. All this wood produces a dark and heavy feeling. Do you think that painting the woodwork will help produce a lighter, more informal look? We're also considering a more general redesign -- something along the lines of country French.

Painted woodwork can work nicely, and in a traditional setting, it might look better if it were also antiqued and glazed.

However, once the deed is done there's no going back to the natural finish without a great deal of mess and expense. So before you undertake such a face-lift, give the wood surfaces a thorough cleaning. You may be surprised at how much brighter the room may appear as a result.

Country French will present you with a number of options for making the room seem friendlier.

The walls can, of course, be painted in a sunny yellow or apricot shade. But do avoid beige and dusty colors. Alternately, you might give some thought to installing a decorative wall covering that will enclose and soften your large, high-ceilinged room.

That was the approach taken in the photo. Like your own space, this dining room features a high wood-beamed ceiling. Note that the surface area between the beams has been covered with a fruit-motif pattern similar to that on the walls. Gramercy Wallpaper's Edenton Harvest was placed on the walls with an accompanying border design, while the ceiling was covered with Edenton Fruit Vine.

There's fruit everywhere, giving a once-gloomy setting an outdoorsy feel. And while the wallpaper pattern is traditional, the palette has been updated to appeal to contemporary tastes.

The chair pads of the country French furniture have been covered with a coordinated plaid fabric that also harmonizes with the table runner. Table runners look especially attractive on a wooden surface when the table is set for a meal. And they always set off the centerpiece.

As for your windows, I recommend a simple top treatment if they are of standard height, or floor-length pull-back panels for longer windows. A small check-patterned fabric would enhance the casual look you hope for.

Pub Date: 3/09/97

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